Russian billionaire Arkady Volozh, the co-founder of Yandex, Russia’s largest internet company, has formally requested that the European Union (EU) lift the sanctions imposed on him. This move comes after Volozh publicly denounced the military operation in Ukraine, which was initiated by Russia in February 2022.
According to the Financial Times, Volozh’s decision to directly request the removal of sanctions was seen as his best option. A source close to the businessman explained, “Frankly, it is hard to imagine what else he could do. And there are hundreds of other sanctioned Russian businessmen watching closely to see what Brussels does,” implying that other individuals may also denounce Russia publicly in order to seek relief from sanctions. Volozh declined to comment on the matter.
Earlier this month, Volozh publicly condemned the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, referring to it as a “barbaric invasion.” He expressed concern for the people of Ukraine, many of whom he considers to be his personal friends and relatives.
Moreover, in an apparent attempt to renounce his nationality, Volozh altered his biography on his personal website. He now describes himself as a “Kazakhstan-born Israeli tech entrepreneur, computer scientist, investor, and philanthropist.” Since the outbreak of the conflict with Ukraine, Volozh has been residing in Israel and has not visited Russia.
Volozh stepped down from his position as CEO of Yandex last year after his name appeared on the EU’s sanctions blacklist. These sanctions have caused numerous problems for him, including squatters occupying his property in Amsterdam. Additionally, he is unable to sell or maintain the building due to the restrictions imposed on him.
The decision to seek sanctions relief marks a significant turn for Volozh, who has taken responsibility for his country’s actions and publicly expressed his opposition to the war. While there may be questions about the timing of his statement, Volozh believes that there should be no doubts regarding its essence – his disapproval of the ongoing conflict.
The request to lift sanctions against Volozh raises questions about the EU’s stance on Russian individuals and businesses impacted by the conflict. The response to Volozh’s plea may set a precedent for others facing similar circumstances.
In conclusion, the co-founder of Yandex, Arkady Volozh, has formally requested that the EU remove the sanctions imposed on him. This comes after he publicly denounced Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and expressed concern for the well-being of the Ukrainian people. The outcome of Volozh’s request may have broader implications for other Russian businessmen facing sanctions.